Qtek (aka HTC Wizard) v’s the HTC Vox

So today a Qtek branded HTC Wizard (aka the K-Jam) arrived on my desk and I have once again renewed my subscription as a Pocket PC user. While I’m not sure Dave agrees with me, I definitely prefer the usability of the Pocket PC in contrast to the Smartphone navigation mechanism.  Especially when you look at the direction that HTC are taking with the HTC Touch you can see why a touch screen is absolutely essential (other advocates are Apple with their iPhone and of course Microsoft with Surface).

You might be thinking that why, since I went and bought a HTC Vox (which is definitely once of the coolest smartphones on the market) would I be keen to go back to the HTC Wizard.  Well the reason is that I think that there is going to be a larger opportunity for building rich user experience applications for pocket pc style devices in the future.  Although in recent times there has been a tendency towards the smartphone style of device I think for business applications there is going to be a need/want to move towards a more sophisticated user experience that can only be achieved through a touch screen capable of stylus and finger input. 

Pocket PC devices, or as they have now been dubbed Windows Mobile 6 Professional devices, also typically have faster processors and more RAM/ROM available.  Of course they then need more battery power which increases their weight – but so long as they don’t end up being the side of mission-control for starship enterprise (ie the JasJar) they should be quite acceptable for the business user.  Something like the soon to be released HTC Kaiser could really set the standard for such devices.

What will be really interesting is the play out in the mobile space around building the next generation of applications.  In the desktop space we have seen Microsoft announce Silverlight and more recently Google Gears which is all leading towards building rich, web deployed applications that can function offline, detect connectivity and synchronise when a connection is available.  Of course despite using SqlLite (which is arguably better than SQL Server Compact Edition) Google is unfortunately a little behind with regards to a synchronisation framework – although given the Orcas ship timeframe it is likely that Google might have an offering in this space before the Microsoft Sync Services framework is available.

So back to the mobile space: Well Microsoft have already showcased Silverlight running on a mobile device but didn’t indicate whether it was running in the browser (similar to the desktop) or as an extension to the .NET Compact Framework?  If it is the former then perhaps we might see a port for other devices which would mean we can finally put the boot into all those J2ME devices and really start building apps that work across platforms.  The other telling sign is that in the initial release of MS Sync Services won’t be supported on the .NET Compact Framework – go figure!!!  The real question is going to be what Google does in this space – are they going to release Google Gears lite or perhaps Google Mobile Gears, specifically tailored for building mobile applications?  I’d suggest this is unlikely given the extremely limited support for javascript in most modern mobile phones.

While I’d like to be positive about the future of building mobile applications there doesn’t seem to be a lot of good news in this space at the moment.  Most of the focus seems to be on getting the web to behave like a rich client (and vice versa) which has completely forgotten that most mobile developers have been working with these issues for decades!

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